10 Secrets to a confident smile

Besides a set of pearly whites, it’s important to maintain good oral care. With these tips, you’ll really have something to smile about

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Besides a set of pearly whites, it’s important to maintain good oral care. With these tips, you’ll really have something to smile about.

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1 Get fresh

Bad breath is usually caused by a dry mouth, according to US dentist and “bad breath” guru Dr Harold Katz. “A dry mouth provides a perfect environment for bacteria reproduction, which is what smells,” he says. “Long periods of speaking, smoking, drinking alcohol and snoring all contribute.

And the lack of saliva production during sleep leaves most people with ‘morning breath’.” Even when it comes to food odours like garlic breath, dryness is the root cause. Normal saliva flow helps eliminate food smells within a few minutes, but if you’re prone to a dry mouth this doesn’t happen.

Dr Katz’s solution: “Stay well hydrated and avoid mouthwash with alcohol as this further dries the mouth. Crunching on crisp fruit and vegetables, such as apples and celery, will stimulate bacteria-banishing saliva production.” And cut back on sugar – this is bacteria’s favourite food group.

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2. Try “oil pulling”

An Ayurvedic remedy that’s been practised for thousands of years, oil pulling – essentially, using oil as a detoxifying mouthwash – might not sound too appealing. But researchers say it strengthens teeth and gums and reduces the chances of plaque forming and gum disease.

Theory? The oil’s properties collect toxins from their mouths that a normal brush, floss and mouthwash will not. The method: Take a small amount of oil into your mouth and swill it around for between 5 to 20 mins. Use coconut oil as it contains antibacterial lauric acid.

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3 You’re never too old for braces

Do your teeth seem to be getting more and more crooked with age? It’s a common phenomenon, and can mean increased decay as food gets lodged in awkward places. Tooth grinding and headaches can also be caused by misaligned teeth, so wearing braces isn’t just for aesthetic reasons. The dreaded train tracks have made way for removable, invisible braces, so ask your dentist to recommend an orthodontist.

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4 Revise your bathroom regimen

We all know how to brush our teeth, right? Not necessarily, says dentist Sameer Patel, “First, don’t wait until after breakfast. Brush on waking to get rid of the bacteria that’s formed overnight. Spit out excess toothpaste but don’t rinse, as this washes the fluoride that helps prevent decay. Then, after breakfast, rinse your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash, rather than brushing, which can push the acid formed from eating into teeth, causing enamel erosion.”

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5 Ditch the sweets

Replace candy with dairy products and fruit – just be sure you stick to the recommended two servings a day to avoid any enamel erosion. “These foods increase saliva that wash away food debris, which in turn strengthens your teeth and gums and leaves them clean,” says dentist Dr Michael Cai. Eaten coloured food? Rinse your mouth with warm water to help reduce staining.

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6 When did you last visit a dentist?

Regular dental checks are essential as your dentist is the best placed to spot early and more treatable signs of mouth cancer. The risk factor for mouth cancer includes excess alcohol, tobacco and HPV, which can also be spread via oral sex. Keep an eye out for red or white patches in your mouth or ulcers that don’t clear up within three weeks – see your doctor or dentist right away.

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7 Just add cucumber

Keep your teeth super white by switching your morning coffee for a glass of cucumber-infused water. Its low acid level won’t erode enamel, plus it’s colourless so it won’t stain. “Coffee and tea – and red wine – contribute to staining and darkening,” explains Dr Cai.

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8 Create an illusion

Deflect attention from yellow staining with a swipe of cool, blue-based lipstick rather than coral, orange or brown tones. Also switch matte formula for high shine, glossy lippies containing light-reflecting pigments that instantly brighten the look of your teeth.

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9 Don’t forget skincare

A recent study shows that women are conscious about their smiles as they cause expression lines and wrinkles. Shiseido’s Vital-Perfection Wrinklelift Cream has been specially formulated with RetinoVP8 Technology, to particularly target those lines and creases. The pure retinol helps boost cell turnover and moisture levels, so skin looks plumped up and smooth.

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10 Never miss a flossing session

Brushing and flossing daily is the best defence against decay, enamel erosion, gum problems and discolouration, says Dr Cai. Flossing removes plaque and stops staining between teeth.